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WWII

These collections contains all materials relating to Canadian from 1939 to 1945. Some individual collections may contain materials beyond this time frame. External links in collection descriptions are to casualty and burial information at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

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Gerald Smedley Andrews was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in December, 1903. He taught school from 1926 to 1930, and then joined the British Columbia Forest Service where he worked as a surveyor until World War Two. During the war he rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and he was responsible for charting the Normandy beaches in preparation for the D-Day landings. At the end of the war he returned to Canada, and served as the Surveyor General of the Province of British Columbia. Andrews was a Member of the Order of the British Empire, and was awarded the Order of British Columbia and was made a member of the Order of Canada. Andrews died in December, 2005 at the age of 102. The collection currently conists of more than two hundred eighty letters, as well as telegrams and miscellaneous items.

Harold John "Jack" Andrews was born in November, 1919. Andrews enlisted with the RCAF in Vancouver, British Columbia in September, 1940. He served overseas as a wireless operator until his return to Canada in 1945. The collection currently consists of his paybook, miscellaneous items, and an extended memoir rewritten from a daily diary he kept from his enlistment to the end of the war.

Wayne Arnold enlisted in December, 1942 in Calgary, Alberta. Arnold arrived in England in October, 1943, participated in the D-Day landing in June, 1944, and then returned to Canada at the end of the war. The collection consists of a memoir written by Arnold following his return to Canada. Arnold died in October, 2004.

Pilot Officer James “Jim” Roy d’Arcy Baker was born in Killarney, Manitoba, on May 22, 1921, to parents Hugh and Marjorie Baker.

Following his enlistment in 1939, Baker served overseas with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry until joining the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1943. He served in the R.C.A.F. for the remainder of the war.

Content notes:
The majority of  the nearly 250 letters in the Baker Collection were written to his mother Marjorie; included with his correspondence were eleven poems he wrote during the war.
Please note: All transcriptions have been provided by the collection donor without original documents.

External links:
P/O Baker (Serv/Reg#s J95017; K85260; R225139) survived the war; his service record is not open to public access at this time.

[Editor’s note: Collection reviewed/updated January of 2023. Several Collection Contents categorizations have been changed (e.g. from “Printed Matter” to “Newspaper Article”); two new letters added; one duplicate & one blank posting corrected. Poems are now identified by their respective letter dates, and poem formatting updated. The Collection Description and some content descriptions have been added or expanded to provide more information, including the addition of Baker’s previously unknown middle names.]

The collection consists of two poems written by Barnes during WWII. Barnes had participated at Dieppe and was taken prisoner there, and the poem Dieppe was written while a prisoner of war.

Elmer David Bell was born in Drew, Wellington County, Ontario in 1909. Elmer was practising law when he enlisted in the army in 1941. He served overseas until 1945 and was awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Order of the Crown (Belgium) as a result of his service. He returned to Canada at the end of the war and died in 1998. The collection includes fifteen letters from Elmer. See also the correspondence from his brothers James Bond Bell and William Robert Bell.

James Bond Bell was born in Drew, Ontario in 1921 and joined the RCAF in 1940. He participated in more than twenty raids before he was killed over France on the night of April 18th -19th, 1944. The collection includes forty letters either from James or official correspondence relating to his death. See also the correspondence of his brothers Elmer David Bell and William Robert Bell.

William Robert Bell was born in Drew, Ontario in 1915 and joined the RCAF in 1941. William Bell served overseas in Britian and returned to Canada in 1945. He died in 1977. The collection includes twenty-eight letters from William. See also the correspondence from his bothers James Bond Bell and Elmer David Bell.

Lewis G. Billard was born in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia in 1923. He joined the R.C.A.F. in 1943 and worked on the Rolls-Royce Merlin engines in Lancaster bombers in England and in Mosquito Nightfighters in Europe. The collection consists of more than one hundred letters written home by Billard from 1943 to 1946.

Flying Officer Peter Joseph Biollo was born in Edmonton, Alberta, on September 1, 1923, to parents Peter Paul and Doris Mae (née Casewell) Biollo. Prior to enlistment he was employed as a sheet metal worker in Victoria, British Columbia.  

Biollo enlisted into Active Service with the Royal Canadian Air Force on June 1, 1942, joining the British Commonwealth Air Training Program. After completing his initial training in Edmonton, Biollo was posted in January of 1943 to #2 Bombing and Gunnery School in Mossbank, Saskatchewan. In April he advanced to #7 Air Observer School in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, where he earned his Air Bomber Badge and was commissioned as an Officer on May 14, 1943.

Following his arrival in England in July of 1943, Biollo completed his training in the Royal Air Force Training Pool. In May of 1944 he joined the 576 Squadron, R.A.F., as an Air Bomber. On the night of July 28/29, 1944, his plane failed to return from a mission targeting Stuttgart, Germany, and Biollo was pronounced missing in action. It was later determined that his Lancaster bomber had crashed at Renauvoid, near Epinal, France, killing all aboard except for the pilot who had managed to bail out and became a Prisoner of War. Biollo was buried at the Chaumousey Communal Cemetery, Vosges, France.

Content notes:
The majority of the letters in the collection were written by Biollo to his family in Edmonton during the time he was in training in Canada with the B.C.A.T.P., or while stationed in England with the R.A.F. His letters often mention his eight younger siblings: Miriam, Frances, Elvira, Ramona, Dolores, Loretta, Raymond, and Barbara (born in 1943).
Almost all of the 1943 letters prior to June 17 are undated. In order to allow these to be read in chronological order on the website, they have been assigned sequential numbers and appear in the date listings as “1943-01, 1943-02, etc.” type-format. The chronological order was established based on letter content and service file information, and is intended as a reading aid only.  
The four poems were written by Biollo between 1941-43.

External links:
F/O Biollo’s service record (Serv/Reg#s J26543; R166672) can be viewed/downloaded in pdf format through Library and Archives Canada.
Burial information is available at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
A memorial page honouring Biollo can be visited online at the Canadian Virtual War Memorial.

[Editor’s note: Collection reviewed/updated January, 2023. Three poems, two newspaper clippings, and jpgs of letter pages added. Letter transcriptions reviewed and emended. Additional information added to collection and content descriptions.]

Sergeant Peter Birnie was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, on January 15, 1908, to parents Jane and Noah Birnie.

Birnie had been active in the Militia from 1930 to 1939 with the 48th Highlanders of Canada, and then attested with them in September, 1939 as part of the Canadian Active Service Forces.  He was sent to England and then was part of the invasion of Sicily with the 48th Highlanders, where he was killed on July 25, 1943.

External links:

Sgt. Peter Birnie’s Service File (#B73375) can be viewed/downloaded in pdf format from Library and Archives Canada.

Burial information can be found at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

A memorial page honouring Birnie can be vistited online at the Canadian Virtual War Memorial.

George Bland was born on a Manitoba farm in 1919. He worked for Kraft Foods before applying to be part of the RCAF Aircrew in 1941. He was asked to join a "Secret Project" as a Radar Mechanic, and worked in the U.K. and India until the summer of 1945. He returned to Canada, where he married and had three sons, and became the Vice-President of Kraft Foods before retiring in 1984. The Collection consists of letters, photographs,and his own personal recollections, and other miscellaneous items.

John Herbert Bohan was born August 26, 1917, son of Herbert and Nellie Bohan of Kitchener, British Columbia. During the war Bohan served overseas with the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada. He was killed in the Italian campaign on September 20, 1944 and is buried in the Coriano Ridge Military Cemetery in Italy. The collection consists of two letters, four photographs, and two telegrams.

William Daniel Boon was born in 1921 in Edmonton, Alberta.  Boon enlisted with the RCAF and was flying with the 150 (RAF) Squadron when he was killed February 26, 1943.  He is buried in Algeria.  The collection currently consists of twenty eight letters and several miscellaneous items relating to his service.

Richard Aubrey Bright was born in Vancouver, British Columbia in January, 1910. He attended The University of British Columbia, graduating with a degree in civil engineering and during the war served in England with the Royal Canadian Engineers. The collection consists of more than twenty five letters covering the period from 1940 to 1946 written to his sister Muriel ('Moo') and her husband Charles Dustin ('Dusty').

Edward (Ted) Brock served overseas with the 48th Highlanders and fought in the Italian campaign and later in Holland. As a Lieut. Platoon Commander is was Brock's duty to write letters to the families of men killed or missing from his platoon. The collection consists of a letter of condolence, reponses from families to whom he wrote, and a short memoir.

Ronald Francis Broome enlisted in Winnipeg, Manitoba in August, 1940. Broome served overseas during the war with the 3rd Canadian Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment. The collection currently consists of letters, photographs, his paybook, a regimental history, a copy of The Maple Leaf Scrapbook, and other miscellaneous items.

Hughie Patrick "Sandy" Brown was born December 29th, 1935 in Trail, British Columbia. He enlisted in 1953 in Vancouver, British Columbia and served as a Para Rescue SAR Tech and later SAR Jumpmaster with the R.C.A.F. until his honourable discharge in 1979. He completed 735 aircraft jumps in the peacetime service and rescue of both civilians and military personnel over his career, and retired with the rank of Sergent. This collection consists of three photographs and Brown's flight log.

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Latest Readings from World War Two collections

Rick Mercer

Reads a 10/25/1943 Letter by Styles, Jack Morris from World War Two collections. View full Letter

The Right Honourable David Johnston

Reads a 05/28/1944 Letter by Senton, Claude from World War Two collections. View full Letter

Chris Hadfield

Reads a Memoir by Selfe, C.A. (Tony) from World War Two collections. View full Memoir